Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2013 - 04:00 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, sony, tap20, vaio, iosafe, n2, synology, NAS, Z77, dragon, msi, pata, apacer, seasonic, thermaltake, urban
PC Perspective Podcast #241 - 03/07/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the Sony VAIO TAP 20, ioSafe N2 NAS, new Z77 motherboards and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:04:57
Podcast topics of discussion:
- 0:01:25 We did a Tomb Raider stream
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:22:2 00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:24:25 ASUS PadFone Infinity from MWC
- 0:27:10 Apacer Launches New PATA SSDs
- 0:32:00 Seagate will cease 7200 RPM mobile HDDs this year
- 0:34:50 Thermaltake launches Urban S21 case
- 0:38:55 Double your HDD density with HGST
- 0:43:00 MSI has new gaming series of MB coming out, based on Z77
- 0:49:30 NVIDIA refreshes Quadro with Kepler GPUs
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
An AIO and Tablet Design
When new and interesting architectures and technology are developed, it enables system designers to build creative designs and systems for consumers. With its renewed focus on power efficiency as well as performance, Intel has helped move the industry towards new form factors like the Next Unit of Computing and the evolution of the All-in-One design.
Today we are taking a look at the new Sony VAIO Tap 20 system, an AIO that not only integrates a 10-point touch screen on a 20-in 1600x900 resolution display and an Ivy Bridge architecture ultra low voltage processor, but also a battery to make the design semi-mobile and ripe for inclusion in high-tech homes.
Check out our quick video overview below and then follow that up with a full pictorial outline and some more details!
This isn't Sony's first foray into all-in-one PCs of course but it is among the first to combine this particular set of features. In what is essentially an Ultrabook design with a large screen, the Tap 20 combines an Ivy Bridge Core i5 processors, 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 750GB hard drive. Here is the breakdown:
|Sony VAIO Tap 20 System Setup|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-3317U|
|Memory||4GB DDR3-1600 (1 x SODIMM)|
|Hard Drive||750GB XXRPM HDD (2.5-in)|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD 4000 Processor Graphics|
|Display||1600x900 20-in touch screen (10 point)|
2 x USB 3.0
SD / Memory Stick card reader
Headphone / Mic connection
|Operating System||Windows 8 x64|
The display is pretty nice with a 1600x900 reoslution though I do wish we had seen a full 1080p screen for HD video playback. As with most touch screens, the display quality is under that of a non-touch IPS monitor but even up close (as you tend to use touch devices) you'll be hard pressed to find any imperfections. Viewing angles are great as well which allows for better multi-person usage.
On the left we find the power connection and a hard wired Ethernet connection that compliments the integrated 802.11n WiFi.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 20, 2013 - 06:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sony, ps4
We're currently in the middle of Sony's Playstation announcement and right off the bat they discussed system specifications.
(Update 2: Press conference was over a few hours ago, and we now have an official press release.)
The Playstation 4, as it will be titled, is very similar to a mid-range gaming PC. When discussing with developers, they requested for Sony to stick with a typical x86-based architecture. Of course that does not stop Sony from describing it as a “Supercharged PC architecture”. Still, they do seem to have quite a decent amount of hardware in this box.
- 8-core x86 CPU
2 Teraflops GPU integrated on same
- I did not hear AMD mentioned, but it totally is.
- 8GB GDDR5 RAM (shared)
- Stereo Camera on the controller with a light bar, like the Wii, to judge distance to TV.
- Also touch sensor in the controller.
- (Update/correction: At least a ...) Spindle-based Hard Drive
While these specifications have been sufficiently leaked in the recent past, we have not been able to pin down exactly how much RAM is provided. We found the development kit contained 8GB of system memory. The problem is that development kits require more RAM than the system it pretends to be to account for development tools and unoptimized assets.
As it turns out, the system itself will contain 8GB of GDDR5 shared between the CPU and GPU, which is quite a lot. Developers will need to finally push the PC platform past the 4GB RAM+VRAM 32-bit barrier in order to keep up with the next generation consoles.
Most of our gaming limitations were due to art assets being limited by memory constraints. Thanks to the new Sony console, PC releases could finally be taken off the 512MB-long leash of Sony and Microsoft.
(Update 2, cont.: The press release has official tech specs as below but are "subject to change")
Single-Chip Custom Processor
CPU: x86-64 AMD "Jaguar", 8 cores
GPU: 1.84 Teraflops, AMD next-generation Radeon(tm)-based graphics engine
|Hard Disk Drive||Built-in|
|Optical Drive (Read-Only)||
BD 6x CAV
DVD 8x CAV
|I/O Ports||Super-Speed USB (USB3.0), AUX|
Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
IEE 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)
So clearly Sony was slightly rounding up when they claimed it was a 2 Teraflop GPU. Still, this looks to be a healthy computer.
We now have the official confirmation we needed that AMD Jaguar cores will power the PS4. Given AMD's big wins in the console platforms, I would wonder if game developers would be able to take some of the tricks they will learn in a few years and be able to start optimizing PC gamers for AMD CPUs.
GPUs too for that matter... this could mean a lot for AMD's PC gamers.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | January 23, 2013 - 02:42 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: southern islands, sony, ps4, playstation 4, orbis, Kaveri, bulldozer, APU, amd
Earlier today a report from Kotaku.com posted some details about the upcoming PlayStation console, code named Orbis and sometimes just called the PS4. Kotaku author Luke Plunkett got the information from a 90 page PDF that details the development kit so the information is likely pretty accurate if incomplete. It discusses a new controller and a completely new accounts system but I was mostly interested in the hardware details given.
We'll begin with the specs. And before we go any further, know that these are current specs for a PS4 development kit, not the final retail console itself. So while the general gist of the things you see here may be similar to what makes it into the actual commercial hardware, there's every chance some—if not all of it—changes, if only slightly.
This is key to keep in mind because here are the specs listed on the report:
- 8GB of system memory
- 2.2GB of graphics memory
- 4 module (8 core) AMD Bulldozer CPU
- AMD "R10xx" based GPU
- 4x USB 3.0 ports and 2x Ethernet connections
- Blu-ray drive
- 160GB HDD
- HDMI and optical audio output
We are essentially talking about an AMD FX-series processor with a Southern Islands based discrete card and I am nearly 100% sure that this will not match the configuration of the shipping system. Think about it - would a console developer really want to have a processor that can draw more than 100 watts inside its box in addition to a discrete GPU? I doubt it.
Instead, let's go with the idea that this developer kit is simply meant to emulate some final specifications. More than likely we are looking at an APU solution that combines Bulldozer or Steamroller cores along with GCN-based GPU SIMD arrays. The most likely candidate is Kaveri, a 28nm based product that meets both of those requirements. Josh recently discussed the future with Kaveri in a post during CES, worth checking out. AMD has told us several times that Kaveri should be able to hit the 1.0 TFLOPs level of performance and if we compare to the current discrete GPUs would enable graphics performance similar to that of an under-clocked Radeon HD 7770.
There is some room for doubt though - Kaveri isn't supposed to be out until "late Q4" though its possible that the PS4 will be the first customer. It is also possible that AMD is making a specific discrete GPU for implementation on the PS4 based on the GCN architecture that would be faster than the graphics performance expected on the Kaveri APU.
When speaking with our own Josh Walrath on this rumor, he tended to think that Sony and AMD would not use an APU but would rather combine a separate CPU and GPU on a single substrate, allowing for better yields than a combined APU part. In order to make up for the slower memory controller interface (on substrate is not as fast as on-die) AMD might again utilize backside cache, just like the one used on the Xbox 360 today. With process technology improvements its not unthinkable to see that jump to 30 or 40MB of cache.
With the debate of a 2013 or 2014 release still up in the air, there is plenty of time for this to change still but we will likely know for sure after our next trip to Taipei.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 13, 2012 - 02:55 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, sony vaio, sony, Ivy Bridge, Intel, convertible tablet
Not content to let the other OEMs have all the Windows 8 tablet fun, Sony has announced a new 11” convertible ultrabook – the VAIO Duo 11 – that uses a sliding hinge to transform from a notebook into a tablet.
The Vaio Duo 11 weighs in a 2.86 pounds and measures 12.6 inches x 7.8 inches. It features an 11.6” IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and 10 point multitouch. Also, it has stereo speakers, a 2.4 megapixel webcam, full (backlit) qwerty keyboard, and pressure sensitive digitizer. Interestingly, the Duo 11 does not have a trackpad. Instead, it has a small touch sensitive trackball that resembles the pointing sticks on IBM/Lenovo PCs but on the Vaio Duo 11 the nub does not move. In that respect, it is more like the trackpad on some Blackberry Phones, but smaller. There are two mouse buttons below the spacebar, however. Other specifications include a magnesium alloy chassis.
Sony is calling the hinge the “Surf Slider” and the display slides forward to lay the display flat over the keyboard for tablet mode. As Ars Technica points out, when the computer is in notebook mode, there is a ribbon cable to the display that is exposed which is less than ideal.
Ports around the sides of the device include a VGA video output, card reader, and headphone jack on the left, and two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI output, and a power button on the right. Reportedly, there is also an Ethernet jack.
Fortunately, Sony did not have to compromise as much on the internal specifications to achieve the 11” form factor. The Vaio Duo 11 includes an Intel Core i3 (Ivy Bridge) processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, and a 128 GB solid state drive.
Image credit: CNet. See their full review here.
The convertible ultrabook will come pre-loaded with Windows 8. It will also include Wi-Fi that can establish ad-hoc wireless connections with other devices by tapping the NFC radios together.
Sony’s Vaio Duo 11 will go on sale October 26, 2012. Prices will start at $1,099.99, with more expensive models adding more storage or a faster processor. It is a bit pricey, but this PC is positioned as an ultraportable convertible tablet, and in that respect it is priced competitively with the competition.
You can find the full press release on Sony's website.
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2012 - 04:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sony, tim, thermal paste, thermal sheet
Say goodbye to messy thermal paste and the time you spent cleaning up the goop that ended up somewhere it shouldn't thanks to Sony's new thermal sheet. In fact it looks like this new thermal interface material is so easy to use you could do it blindfolded! The demonstrated performance is equal to that of traditional thermal paste, with Sony claiming a much longer effective lifespan. At 0.3mm thick it will also provide a thinner layer of TIM than even the most practised of us cannot match by hand. Check out more at Slashdot and try to avoid the rootkit jokes.
"Sony has demonstrated a thermal sheet that it claims matches thermal paste in terms of cooling ability while beating it on life span. The key to the sheet is a combination of silicon and carbon fibers, to produce a thermal conductive layer that's between 0.3 and 2mm thick. In the demonstration, the same CPU was cooled by thermal paste and the thermal sheet side-by-side, with the paste keeping the processor at a steady 53 degrees Celsius. The sheet achieved a slightly better 50 degrees Celsius. The actual CPU used in the demonstration wasn't identified. Sony wants to get the thermal sheet used in servers and for projection units, but I can definitely see this being an option for typical PC builds, too. It's certainly going to be less messy and probably a lot cheaper than buying a tube of thermal paste."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Make your own magnetic ink @ Hack a Day
- The Evolution Of NVIDIA's Kepler Driver Performance @ Phoronix
- Intel gobbles Lustre file system expert Whamcloud @ The Register
- Mozilla releases Firefox 14 and encrypts Google searches by default @ The Inquirer
- Symantec update killed biz PCs in three-way software prang @ The Register
- RaidSonic ICY BOX IB-PL550D 500Mbit/s Powerline Adapter Kit Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2012 - 02:03 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sony, ps4, Internet, gaming, gaikai, cloud gaming
Gaikai, the streaming cloud gaming service was bought today by Sony Computer Entertainment. At this year’s Fusion Developer Summit, Gaikai stated its goal to be the gaming service on all of your devices, from your cell phone to Smart TV. Interestingly, the recent buyout from Sony raises questions about the future openness of the platform.
Purchased for $380 million, Sony plans to combine its game catalog with Gaikai’s streaming technology to provide cloud entertainment services. Gaikai CEO David Perry was quoted by The Verge as saying:
“We're honored to be able to help SCE rapidly harness the power of the interactive cloud and to continue to grow their ecosystem, to empower developers with new capabilities, to dramatically improve the reach of exciting content and to bring breathtaking new experiences to users worldwide.”
The biggest question I have about the future of Gaikai is whether not not it will now be a Sony-only technology. At AFDS, Gaikai showed off the technology running on Samsung Smart TVs, though it remains to be seen whether Sony will continue to license the technology to other companies. Should it remain Sony-only, the company could use that exclusivity as a feature-add for its consoles, Google TVs, blu ray players, and televisions. They could further use Gaikai to power its future consoles or to bring its entire library of console games to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita gaming platforms. The Verge speculates that Sony could be using the technology to bring its back-catalog of PS1 and PS2 games to the current generation console, now that it is otherwise no longer backwards compatible with the older hardware. That sounds like a very plausible plan of action for Sony.
Will Sony bring Gaikai-powered cloud gaming to the PS3?
You can find more additional quotes and speculation over at The Verge. What do you think will happen to Gaikai’s technology? Will Sony put it to good use or did they only buy it now to keep others from using it?
Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 10:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sony, smart tv, htpc, google tv, google, Android
Yes, it does appear that Google TV is still a “thing” – though I am only reminded because Sony has not stoppsed releasing new boxes running Android. The NSZ-GS7 is a small box designed to sit between your TV and cable box to add additional smart TV-like functionality. It is running a dual core Marvell ARM processor, and has 8GB of storage space, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth radios. Rear IO on the device includes two HDMI ports (for HDMI passthrough of your cable box or other media device), optical audio output, an IR blaster port, Ethernet, two USB ports, and a power input port.
The interesting thing about these Google TV products has always been the remotes. There have been some strange designs in the past, but the Sony NSZ-GS7’s remote actually looks nice and comfortable. The front of the remote resembles any standard TV remote with a track pad added to it while the back of the remote features a full QWERTY keyboard. It also has an accelerometer and is allegedly capable of detecting which side of the remote you are using – and will turn off the buttons on the underside to avoid accidental key-presses.
I really like this remote. Image credit goes to Tom's Hardware.
Beyond the hardware itself, the Google TV box is running Android 3.2 Honeycomb. It is able to acts as an enhanced TV guide as well as providing web access and Google App functionality (for the few apps that have been modified to work specifically with Google TVs anyway). One of the cool apps available is one that can control a Parrot AR.Drone on the big screen with the TV remote, which sounds like fun (my dog would go nuts!). It is also capable of doing picture-in-picture where users can browse the web while also watching the TV in a smaller window.
Tom’s Hardware managed to gets a hands-on demo with the new device courtesy of Sony Canada. They managed to snag several good photos of the hardware and interface. They note that the NSZ-GS7 Google TV box will be coming out next month for those in the US and UK – a Canadian launch is following in August – for $199. You can find more photos at the link above.
Especially with the release of the Nexus Q, I have to wonder if Google is even aware that Google TV is still around, because it really feels like they launched it and then walked away from it. Now that they are focusing on “the cloud” for media playback, the Google TV has even less relevance to the company. On the other hand, I could see an perspective where both devices are able to coexist and flesh out total living room media functionality with the Nexus Q handling the social and cloud media playback and Google TV acting as a better cable box for “offline” media. I am curious though, what you think of Google TV. Do you like it, or would you rather have a beefier HTPC running Windows or Linux on x86/64 hardware? Where do you think the Google TV fits into the living room?
Other Google I/O News:
- Google I/O: Day One Announcements
- Google Glasses
- Google Selling Nexus 7 At Cost, Pushing Its Google Play Store
- The ASUS tablet that became the Nexus 7
- Google I/O talk on the PC Perspective Podcast
Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2012 - 04:03 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, sony, bloggie, bloggie live, camera, camcorder, streaming, qik
Among the Crystal LED televisions Sony had a small pocket camera on display, the Sony Bloggie Live. The successor to the original Bloggie, the stylish camera fits in your pocket and somewhat resembles a smartphone in design.
The Bloggie Live features 8 GB of internal storage space, a 3" touch screen LCD, and a water resistant exterior. The ExmorCMOS sensor is capable of recording 1080p or 720p video, and the Wi-Fi radio is able to upload photos and videos to the various sharing services including Facebook, YouTube, Dailymotion, Flickr, and Picassa. The Bloggie Live has an LED flash and a stereo microphone. In addition to video, the camera is able to take 12.8 megapixel still photos. In addition, the camera is able to stream video to the internet over Wi-Fi using the Qik streaming service. Using the PlayMemories application, users are also able to wirelessly transfer files from the Bloggie Live to a smartphone.
Alternatively, Sony also showed off the Bloggie Sport, with is a bit smaller than the Bloggie Live and is waterproof up to 16 feet of water. This camera features 4 GB of internal memory, and is capable of shooting HD MP4 video and 5 megapixel still shots. An "Underwater Mode" further adjusts the white balance automatically.
The Bloggie Live is available for purchase immediately for $250 USD while the Bloggie Sport will cost $180 and will be available in February. The price tag is a bit steep considering the storage is not expandable and there is no external mic jack. Still, aesthetics wise, the new pocket camcorder looks slick.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Displays | January 9, 2012 - 09:50 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, sony, led, crystal led, oled, tv
While I read a few weeks ago that Sony would not be showing off any OLED TVs at CES, I was a bit saddened. The company was the first to bring a real OLED television one step above vaporware, even if it was only 11" and prohibitively expensive it was advancing the technology. Well, CES is here and Sony did not bring any OLED television to demo, much less bring to market this year. Fortunately, LG and Samsung have the OLED TVs covered. The question of how Sony plans to compete with the OLED competition seems to be in improved LED TV technology.
Speaking of LED TV technology, while Sony did not bring an OLED TV to CES, they did bring a new LED TV that they claim is much improved over current LED back-lit televisions. They are calling this technology "Crystal LED," and it is powering a 55" prototype television at this years CES. The 55" television uses very small RGB (red, green, and blue) LEDs to create the picture. This is an important distinction as current "LED TVs" are really just LCD televisions with LEDs as the back-light; where the LEDs shine light through the LCD pixels to create the picture. This Sony prototype is an actual LED TV, not just a branding misnomer as the LED lights are what creates the picture and not just a light source.
According to Engadget, Sony claims their true LED TV is greatly improved over LED-back-lit LCDs and offers 3.5 times the contrast, a 1.5 times wider color gamut, and is 10 times faster than LCDs. Although these are Sony's numbers and should be taken with a grain of salt (until independent reviewers can verify), they at least seem reasonable and plausible. The contrast improvement and true blacks should be readily possible thanks to the panel tech being self emitting. If done right, it should come close to the contrast offered by OLEDs which share the self-emitting property. The ability to be 10 times faster than LCDs may be the most questionable number, but still not an outrageous claim.
Stay tuned for more information as we get it! Do you think Sony's Crystal LED prototype has a chance against OLED?
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!